What’s the future for sheep? AHDB answers

AHDB’s latest Horizon report sets out the long-term outlook for the sheep sector in England.

Opportunities for the sheep sector explores the evidence on what the next ten years might bring and how the industry can adapt to the changes ahead.

It looks in detail at three key areas impacting the sheep industry: the UK’s new trading relationships with the EU and the rest of the world; the shift in English agricultural policy and the phasing out of direct payments; and consumer attitudes and shopping behaviours at home and abroad.

The report has been compiled by AHDB using the most up to date data and interviews with key actors across the sheep meat industry, including trade associations, processors and retailers. Collaboratively they have come up with four focus areas where the sector as a whole – from farmers through the supply chain to Government and AHDB itself – needs to think and act differently to be able to grasp future opportunities.

Evidence in the report has helped to shape AHDB’s strategy for the sector, ensuring its activities and investment are instrumental in supporting the sector’s success.

AHDB’s David Swales, who authored the report, said: “We’re entering an era of significant change for the sheep sector, framed by challenges in the domestic market exacerbated by trade friction with our key trading partner the EU and the threat the loss of direct payments poses to farm business profitability.

“But our analysis has also uncovered many opportunities, whether it be capitalising on increased demand for sheep meat in Asia-Pacific, increasing value in the Halal sector domestically or providing digital solutions to overcome red tape.

“The sector is at a crossroads and while doing what we’ve always done is not an option, the report provides a way forward for the whole industry to unite behind.”

The four areas of focus identified in the report are preparing for policy change, increasing market access for sheep meat overseas, being ready to compete and knowing what markets require and reward, with the report conclusions highlighting where different businesses and organisations can play a role.

Rebecca Miah, AHDB Beef & Lamb Strategy Director, added: “This report shines a light on the sheep sector, asking difficult questions about the future and coming up with solutions. Its compilation from insight across the industry also shows the strength of working together, we hope it will form a common evidence base from which as a whole we focus on overcoming the challenges and capitalising on the opportunities to create a thriving sheep sector.”

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